Thursday, August 21, 2008

Newsletter for September (Buildings!)

Kia ora koutou katoa - This is an exciting time in the school for property issues as we are currently planning to embark on a number of building projects. In order or priority they are:
Demolition of T1 (a large space in the old technology block that has been deemed beyond our entitlement by the Ministry of Education); refit of the rest of T block; refit of A block. In reality these last two items are a combined project. After these projects we will be concentrating on improving the adminsitration block, the road frontage and further improvements around the school as per our property plan.

Also being planned is a purpose built facility for the Teen Parent Unit and an early childhood centre on the school site (beside our stadium). This has been many years in the offing but it looks as if it will soon become a reality.

Our architects, Ardern and Peters, are currently working with the staff to develop plans for both T and A blocks, and to design a modern administration area and the Teen Parent Unit facility.

The demotion of T1 has started already with Pretty and Webb the successful company engaged to complete the work. Various sub-contractors have been engaged to attend to asbestos removal from pipes under T1, water, and electrician work. The Board of Trustees has worked hard to ensure that all work complies with health and safety requirements.

I am always staggered by the amount of talent in the school in so many fields. The Central Rugby Club teams, our netball teams, boys and girls' soccer, the hockey teams and basketball teams have all performed with distinction this year. Many of our students take advantage of the TSSSA sports activities as well in their busy lives. Our Kapa Haka group recently had a very successful workshop and performance day at Eltham Primary and the recent art exhibitions and auctions at Percy Thompson Gallery have also showcased the outstanding talent that is within the school. My thanks to all the parents, staff and students who coach, manager, support and participate in all of the sports and cultural activities that happen over the winter months. You've done a superb job.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Te Maunga Tuu (The mountain that rises up)

Te Maunga Tuu is a cluster of seven Taranaki schools that includes Opunake High School, Hawera High School, Coastal Taranaki, Inglewood High Shool, Waitara High School, Spotswood College, and Stratford High School. We have been planning this initiative for two years.

The Ministry of Education has agreed to fund our project (a schooling improvement/ professional development project) and this should finally get under way in 2009.

Why is this necessary? In a nutshell the situation in all of our schools is one of poor comparable achievement by Maori students at NCEA Level 1 compared to non Maori.

At Stratford High School the measures of success indicate that our Maori and non Maori students are comparable in years 9 and 10 and in numeracy and literacy at year 11 (indeed our Maori students out perform our non Maori in these important areas). The concern for us is that our Maori students are not able to perform as well as non Maori at NCEA level one. As a school we are improving the success rate over time (ie we have more than doubled the success rate from 15 to 35 per cent but this is low compared to the combined year 11 success rate of 66 per cent achieving NCEA level 1).

The schooling improvement project is targeting this concern. An action research methodology will be used and the project will be undertaken under the Co-construction model - working always within a culturally appropriate and responsive context.

Action research involves the following framework: An issue is defined > reconnaissance of the 'problem' or situation > intervention put into place > evaluation of intervention > intervention > evaluation > intervention > evaluation and so on.

Currently the project has a governance group (the seven Principals, Maori representatives and a Ministry of Education rep) and a data collection group working with Evaluation Associates, and a lead teacher group. For Stratford High School the lead teachers are Whaea Tina O'Carroll, Matua Jack Tamihana, and Philip Keenan.

Where to next? Tasks to be completed over the next few weeks: work on questions for a Cultural Audit to happen within schools, development / selection of a student engagement tool, data people will meet and set up protocols for a data audit for schools, the Theory for Improvment (TFI) and Action Plan will be redrafted, and Cluster-wide NCEA data will be sent to the cluster from MoE.

I will keep the community informed about Te Maunga Tuu progress via this blog.

Na - Warren Purdy

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Newsletter for August

Tēnā koutou katoa

I have recently enrolled a number of new students to the school and I would like to welcome them and their families to our school. Our net loss of students between the first of March count and first of July count was only 10 students. Given that schools naturally have a lot of senior leavers during the year this is a very encouraging statistic.

A recent assembly celebrated the success of our students in NCEA for 2007. We also took the opportunity to backdate for 2006 when the endorsement concept didn’t exist. Specifically we awarded ‘scholar’ badges to students who received endorsements for merit or excellence in NCEA. An endorsement means that at least 50 of the credits were either at merit or excellence standard. Clearly this is a tough award to gain and we awarded over thirty ‘scholar’ badges for level 1, nearly twenty for level 2. Eight students received a combination Level1/Level 2 ‘scholar’ badge. Congratulations to all of our scholars.

Staff news: We have recently farewelled our audio-visual technician – Troy Egan. We congratulate Matt Coleman on his promotion to Head of Science at St Mary’s Diocesan School. Matt has been here for a little over six years and richly deserves his promotion. We will formally farewell him at the end of this term.

I have recently started a blog (an on-line diary or journal) to share some thoughts and ideas with the community. You can access it via our website or else go directly to . Recent posts concern our very successful open evening for new students and Yale University’s open (and free) courses.

Term three is the term for us to firmly focus on achievement in the remaining internal standards that students face before many take on the external standards in term 4. A recent survey of our Poutama programme indicated that nearly 70% of students have completed at least one of their goals and reset other goals. This is a very encouraging sign as we enter the business end of the academic year. I encourage all students to continue to revisit their Poutama goals with the focus on internal standards in the next eight weeks. As Qui-Jon Jinn says, “Your focus determines your reality”

Nā Warren Purdy